Dear Awesome Person—
First, let me be clear: you are no doubt amazing, and I am certain that the [socially conscious / fun / social-media-oriented / generally badass] [project / shindig / meeting / fundraiser] you’re planning will rock the Casbah in ways seldom contemplated, let alone achieved. Plaudits will rain down on you. Deservedly so.
Alas, I will not [participate / write a guest post / be in attendance / do that thing you asked me to do]. Not to be clichéd, but I want you to know that it’s not you—it’s me.
See, I’m a family man with a beautiful wife, wonderful children, a fun but demanding job, a lifelong goal of writing books, and a firm commitment to achieving tip-top physical condition. Something has to give—many somethings, actually—and unfortunately your project is one of them.
It’s not that I wouldn’t like to take part in your thing. Chances are very good that I would enjoy it immensely. But I have discovered that, like Jon Stewart, my creativity can only find its best expression through highly disciplined processes. Like Anthony Trollope, I have to dedicate a non-negotiable part of each day to my writing (and to my wife, my kids, my job, and my workouts). Like my friend Chris Brogan, I have to “pay myself first” in the form of ample sleep so that I can do my best work. Against my extroverted tendencies, I’m even forcing myself, like Neal Stephenson, to become a (somewhat) bad correspondent.
Why? Because I haven’t yet demonstrated the same commitment to writing books that Will Self does. (R-rated language there—though if it takes some f-bombs to get the books written, I’m all for it.)
That means, and here the Stephenson and Self references will have tipped you off, that sometimes I may even have to risk sounding rude about how I set my priorities, and how your project fits—or rather, doesn’t fit—into them.
But please believe me, it’s not meant to be rude. It’s only done because this life is finite, and when it’s over I’ll be dead a long, long time. I have to choose how to spend the hours wisely, and that means pursuing what I find truly worth doing, whether I fail or succeed.
Unfortunately, your thing—awesome though it promises to be or already is—just isn’t my thing. And experience tells me that, if I don’t focus on my thing, I’ll go crazy.
Hey, I do find moments here and there to blow off steam, socialize, and share neat (or just goofy) ideas. I do it on this blog, on Facebook, on Twitter. By all means, look me up. We’ll hang out virtually. That will be awesome, too.
But please don’t expect me to commit to something that’s just not my thing.
Yours most sincerely,